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Mar 26 / Jeff

How to Start Plants from Seed

So if I am going to start a blog to talk about gardening, then I need to start from the very beginning. To grow a vegetable garden, you need plants. To have plants, you need seeds. But… you also need plants to get seeds. Wait. Which came first?

Ok, let’s assume these seeds fell out of the sky and landed in your backyard. What do we do now?

1. Find a container to plant them in. You can use just about anything, but I recommend seed starting trays. You can find these at any nursery or hardware store.

2. Next, buy some seed starting mix. Note, it must specifically state “Seed Starting”. Why? This means the mix contains mostly peat moss, a finely textured soil that retains moisture and is very suitable to starting seeds. Some common brands include Miracle-Gro and Jiffy. There are a few other ones out there. You are free to choose any brand you wish. They all do the same thing.

3. Now, here is something I learned very quickly. Usually, the soil mix you buy is sold dry, to cut down on transportation costs. The problem is, if you actually follow the instructions on the bag, you will get terrible results. Why? Because when a soil is dry, it is very difficult to moisten it simply by watering it. In fact, it’s virtually impossible. So when you plant the seeds, they will not get any water and they will not grow. Oops. Ignore the instructions and follow these steps:

4. To explain what I just did in words: Add water to the bag. Close the bag. Press down on the bag to force the soil to absorb the water. Do this several times to ensure all of the soil is moistened. If you did it correctly, when you open the bag you should see this:

The soil should clump together and should not feel dry at all. You may need to use your hands to mix it some more.

5. Now, fill the seed starting tray with the soil. Press down in each individual cell to ensure there is enough soil.

6. Next, poke small holes in each cell, about 0.5″ deep. You will plant the seeds here. For larger seeds, such as beans and melons, you will need to plant at about 1″ deep.

7. Plant the seeds in each hole. I recommend placing at least 2-3 seeds, just in case you get a bad seed. Ha ha. Cover the seeds with some soil and pat down.

8. The most important step: Water! Make sure you give the soil a good soaking, but be careful not to disturb the seeds (e.g. don’t use the full power stream setting on your trigger nozzle). Keep the soil moist during the first week or two. Most seeds will come up in about 5-7 days.

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